A fine Chelsea performance was capped off by first-half goals from Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata as we made it back-to-wins on a glorious afternoon at Stamford Bridge.
The goals were made and scored in Spain. Morata assisted Fabregas’s delicate volleyed opener and then, five minutes before the break, Cesar Azpilicueta’s teasing delivery was headed in by the Spanish striker.
In doing so, Morata became the first player in Premier League history to both score and assist a goal in each of his first two home games.
In the searing heat our intensity dropped a little after the break, but we remained the better team and were full value for the two-goal victory. It was an excellent way to pick up our first home league victory of the campaign against a side that drew at Manchester City as recently as Monday.
Our next outing is away to Leicester in a fortnight’s time after a pause in club football as internationals take centre stage.
Fabregas returned to the starting XI after suspension and there was also a place in the side for his compatriot Pedro. Andreas Christensen and Tiemoue Bakayoko made way with David Luizdropping back in to the centre of defence, so we reverted to a 3-4-3 formation.
For Everton, Gylfi Sigurdsson made his first league start, while Sandro Ramirez played ahead of Wayne Rooney in attack. In total, Ronald Koeman brought five fresh faces in from those that began their 1-1 draw in Croatia on Thursday.
The Blues began brightly. Morata had a shot blocked inside the first couple of minutes, and the pace and skill of Pedro and Willian either side of him caused our visitors issues from the off.
On nine minutes, Idrissa Gueye caught Fabregas late and dangerously in midfield and was only booked.
Willian then burst forward and fed Morata who unselfishly squared to an unmarked Pedro. His first touch took the ball behind him and upwards, so when the attempt arrived it was in the form of a bicycle kick that flew over.
In quick succession Willian, David Luiz and Pedro had efforts on goal deflected over or saved. What our dominance deserved was a goal, and that’s exactly what we got with 27 minutes gone.
Willian, down the right, picked out Fabregas approaching the 18-yard box. The Spaniard found Morata who managed to nod the ball back into Cesc’s path at the second time of asking. What followed was magical: a beautiful first-time volley, struck with the outside of the boot and steered low beyond Pickford into the far corner.
There was no let-up from Antonio Conte’s men. Kante led the way with his trademark pressing and tackling, and alongside him Fabregas provided the guile behind a front three full of energy and sharp movement.
More slick interchange preceded our second. Moses was fouled right on the edge of the box but an advantage was played. Kante looked set to shoot before the ball was hacked away, only as far as Azpilicueta. With the Everton defence still trying to get its shape back, his early cross was just the tonic. And what an inviting delivery it was, Morata nodding it in for his second Stamford Bridge headed goal in a little over an hour of football at his new home ground.
It was the perfect ending to an exceptional first half.
Koeman introduced Muhamed Besic for Tom Davies at the interval in an attempt to gain some control in midfield. But the opening moments of the second period mirrored what had gone before. Pedro wasn’t far away from curling in number three from 25 yards out.
Our defence had been largely untroubled but found themselves backpedalling as Rooney drove forward and slipped in Sandro five minutes into the half. The shot was not cleanly struck and hit Rudiger before rolling to safety.
It wasn’t long before we were asserting our authority again. A low Azpilicueta cross somehow evaded everyone, and then Pedro created space for himself with a nutmeg before firing wide. On the hour, Moses burst into space from deep but couldn’t beat Pickford one-on-one.
The Stamford Bridge crowd, in excellent voice throughout on a baking hot afternoon in west London, got their first sighting of Bakayoko in the flesh with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining. The French midfielder replaced Pedro, and Michy Batshuayi was on for Morata soon after.
Bakayoko nearly blasted in goal number three with his first involvement but an Everton block denied him after Willian broke at speed.
Ashley Williams had a couple of threatening efforts on our goal before time was up, the first landing on top of the net and the second glanced wide of the post.
Courtois’ only meaningful save of the afternoon came with three minutes remaining, the Belgian diving at full stretch to tip Gueye’s goalbound effort over. It proved the last noteworthy moment of an enjoyable encounter, and so we head into the international break on the back of two excellent wins worthy of champions.